What is it that we Americans say? Two heads are better than one. Case in point, Brooklyn’s Lucius, and their new album Good Grief. Equal parts dream pop and indie rock, Good Grief finds itself in a nice place—it somehow sounds both new and familiar. Solid production supports some good songs and a few great ones. The album fits squarely within current the indie pop realm, but sounds different enough that it doesn’t feel tired or played out.
Lucius jumped into the consciousness after the release of their first EP and album, Wildewoman, which scored them a run of shows opening for Jack White. Good Grief is not a huge leap for them, but it does bring a different overall tone. It seems like Lucius turned down some of their Americana influence and turned up the eletro-pop. Good Grief is pretty thoroughly stuffed with hooks. There are pensive hooks like in “Madness” “What We Have (To Change)” and super danc-ey hooks like “Something About You” and the infectious “Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain.” Their single “Born Again Teen” seemed a bit frantic on its own, but in the context of the album, it is a blast of energy. Ballads “Dusty Trails” and “My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve” bring a tender side to the album and let the two front-women Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig show of their Berklee pipes.
The combo of Laessig and Wolfe is really what defines Lucius. Their backing band are no slouches. Dan Molad on drums, Peter Lalish on guitar, and Andrew Burri, on more drums and more guitars, and they all sing. The crew consistently provides busy and interesting music that can test the boundaries of having “too much going on” without actually stepping over. But it’s the ladies that really set the band apart.
On my first listen, Good Grief reminded me of St. Vincent’s self-titled album. But, while these two acts are definitely in the same ballpark in terms of music and style, there is one pivotal difference. St. Vincent is all about Annie Clark. I know it took me probably a year to learn that her name is Annie Clark and the band’s name is St. Vincent. Blondie fans know what I’m talking about. This misunderstanding could exist with Lucius but, it gets eradicated as soon as you look at a picture of the band and see two women in matching costumes. “They can’t both be ‘Lucius’… or can they?” Wolfe and Laessig dedicate their image to being as alike as possible. Setting aside the sheer amount of work that must take (two of every piece of weird mod clothing, identical hair color and style ALWAYS…), it achieves several effects. Having two identically costumed front women is like doubling a vocal on a recording, but all the time and with everything. When they perform live the power of a doubled vocal is there, but it’s also there when they pose for a band photo.
More importantly though, having two identical frontwomen depersonalizes both of them. Annie Clark and Debbie Harry took all the attention from St. Vincent and Blondie because they are beautiful women pushed to the front of the stage in wild costumes. But when you have two beautiful women pushed to the front of the stage in wild costumes together, something different happens. They don’t come across as an individual with a backing band, because they aren’t. They come across as two people that are part of something bigger. It encourages the fans in the audience to not just “look at the girl singing the songs,” but rather actually listen to the music and experience the show. It stresses that this band is not about one individual, it’s about the band.